CHRIS SUTTON: Three key battles for the North London derby – with Arsenal’s Ben White and Gabriel looking to take out Tottenham’s deadly attacking duo of Kane and Son
- Tottenham host Arsenal in a potentially fiery derby in north London on Thursday
- The massive match has fourth place and a Champions League place at stake
- The battle between the Gunners’ defenders and the Spurs’ attackers could be crucial
Tottenham and Arsenal face each other on Thursday in what is likely to be a season-defining clash for both sides.
The winners of the North London derby await three points, local boasting and – most crucially – a huge boost in the race for fourth place and the corresponding Champions League spot.
sports post columnist Chris Sutton walks you through the teams and gives you an overview of the three main battles likely to decide the game, from Arsenal’s defenders taking on Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, to analyzing whether anyone can stop Bukayo Saka …
Arsenal and Tottenham meet in a crucial Derby in north London on Thursday evening
Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton walks through his key battles of the North London derby
SON HEUNG-MIN v BEN WHITE
No one in the Premier League makes those runs behind the lines better than Son.
He represents a great challenge for any defender and especially for White as he likely return from injury for this North London derby.
Son will always try to enter from the left and peel into the space in the back, ready for that you-know-who ball.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane (top) and Heung-min Son will aim to continue their good form
That’s where White, the Arsenal right-wing centre-back who is expected to start, needs to be super engaged.
Lose sight of the bipedal Son for even one second and you’ll see him score.
HARRY KANE v GABRIEL
While White will worry about Son trying to find out, Gabriel will worry about the man up front – which is Kane.
I’m not divulging any state secrets by telling you that the England striker is good at diving deep to act as Tottenham’s source of creativity.
Ben White (right) and Gabriel (left) will struggle to mark Spurs stars Son and Kane
But this poses a big problem for central defenders. If Kane falls, how far will you go with him?
You can’t mark him halfway down the line, like Leeds tried to do. It leaves too many holes and becomes chaotic.
There must be first class communication between Gabriel and Granit Xhaka so that one of them always knows when Kane is his responsibility.
BEN DAVIES v BUKAYO SAKAI
Has anyone checked Saka’s boots for super glue?
The way the ball sticks to him is a wonderful display of control, and Davies has done his job for him.
Ben Davies (second from left) was great against Liverpool and will need to be back on top form
As the man to the left of Tottenham’s back three, Saka is his problem. If there’s one striker Antonio Conte fears most, it’s this 20-year-old, who scored in the reverse game in September.
Who tops Arsenal’s goals list? saka. For recordings? saka. Tried and completed for dribbles? saka. He is also only one behind Alexandre Lacazette for assists.
As in all games, the result will largely come down to head-to-head duels and Saka is someone who can fool defenders.